Investigators believe arson was the cause of a deadly fire at the Mahdia School dormitory in Guyana on Sunday that killed nineteen children.
“The initial investigation by the fire service identified that the fire was maliciously set,” Dwayne Scotland, deputy chief of the Guyana Fire Service, told a news conference Monday.
But investigators said they have not yet identified any suspects.
According to local reports, nine victims are currently in hospital, in addition to the nineteen children who perished due to the girls’ school dormitory blaze.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali declared three days of national mourning in an address to the nation.
Ali announced that all public buildings should fly the national flag at half-staff in honor of the children who lost their lives.
Guyana’s Department of Public Information (DPI) said 59 girls were staying in the dorms, but only 56 were in the rooms when the fire started since three went home for the weekend.
Thirteen girls and a little boy died at the dorms, while five died at the Mahdia Hospital, DPI reported.
It indicated that investigators would need DNA analysis to identify the 13 female victims who perished at the dormitory.
Amid the mourning over the tragedy residents held a demonstration calling for justice.
AFP reported that around 50 relatives and friends of the victims demonstrated on Monday in Chenapau, a village close to Mahdia that is home to many of the school’s pupils.
Reports indicate that the dormitory had barred windows.
And firefighters said they managed to save some children by breaking holes in the wall of the building.